As the nation unfurls the Tricolour from the ramparts of Red Fort for the 70th time, I cannot help wonder what these 70 years have meant for the Indian women? Has she really experienced freedom, is she free from the societal bondages that have hindered her growth for centuries and most importantly has she been able to experience equality with men in a country that worships some hundred or more Goddess on a daily basis? Unfortunately for us the answer to none of these is a unanimous Yes!
Women today have no doubt come a long way, they are pursuing a number of unique academic courses, the society is accepting them as career persons and perhaps understanding that men and women are equally responsible for managing their homes. There is perhaps a greater degree of acceptance of the woman’s opinion and role in the family and society as well. But that said it is a very slow development that is still limited to select pockets of the country only. For the majority of women illiteracy, purdah, malnutrition and inequality are demons that they have learnt to accept as a way of life.
Statistics highlight how vulnerable the Indian woman’s position is despite the 70 years of independence that the country is observing and the infinite protests we have seen thus far. There are on an average six crimes reported against women every minute. According to Crime Records Bureau (NCRB)’s 2014 report, 93 women are raped in India every day. Infact the total crime against women rose by a shocking 20% in 2015 compared to the previous year. Nearly 6,482 cases of rape and molestation were registered under IPC up to October 31, 2015 as against 5,483 in 2014. Police data also highlights that 2,069 cases of rape were registered in 2014 as compared to 1,571 in 2013. Unfortunately justice and law enforcement system of the country have failed to deliver redressal at the same pace.
Often we hear power hungry politicians, self professed social commentators and worried parents suggesting home as the safer option for the vulnerable woman but is it really that safe? According to the National Crimes Bureau, 66,000 cases have been registered in the past decade under the Dowry Prohibition Act, 1961. Ten cases of cruelty against women by husbands and other close relatives are every hour across the country.
These numbers perhaps best blurt out the reality and the massive extent of inequality that women continue to face in our country despite better education and awareness. Let us all pledge to make Independent India a safer and better home for not just the men in the country but women too.